Friday night, dinner time at the Cameron home by the cliffs.
Smaller attendance than usual, Briar Rose was with Stryker, Kiera out with Logan and Cait couldn’t make it either, so just Blake, Hailey, Chase, Sarah, Eli and Ethan. Also not unusual.
What was unusual, however was when unexpectedly the door burst open with a crash making Chase wince as he watched his grandpa Ethan stomp in with his uncle Eli, both visible upset. Correction: Ethan was downright angry, fuming really, well beyond upset.
“Dad, come on! Please, don’t make this into a scene. I will fix it, I swear!” Eli pleaded with him, evidently the continuation of an ongoing conversation they had on the drive over after work.
“Fix it?! FIX IT!? Give me a MILLION breaks, kid!” Ethan roared at his son.
Chase’s dad Blake had initially kept quiet but now walked over to his father and half-brother and said firmly
“Guys, mind knocking all that down a few decibles?! There is a cranky toddler sleeping upstairs! You and you, with me now. Let’s go to your home office Eli. We are going to talk for a sec. Girls and Chase, we will be back before dinner is ready … Wonder if my wonderful father and brother are trying to teach me a life lesson about how long one can survive without food! You two are late already and now this episode on top of it all!”
“Blake, if you are this hungry, I can make you a snack … ” Sarah offered.
“He does not need a snack, Sarah, he’s got enough of a dad bod already! He is just being a hangry baby!” Hailey replied, grinning at her husband.
“We’ll discuss that in private later, wifey! Now off to the office!” Blake tried to hide a grin at his wife, then got serious as he directed his father and brother into another room.
“Blake …” Eli tried.
“No arguments! Nothing out of you lil bro until we are ready to talk amongst each other!” Blake told him.
“Well, then you’ll hear it from me, Blake, that’s the way to the laundry room.” Ethan told him drily.
“Oh! Well, where is that office again? Why do you need such a huge house, it’s nothing but confusing!” Blake complained.
“Upstairs, Blake. Where it has been for 20 years.” Ethan sounded annoyed as he pointed toward the stairs.
They made it up to the privacy of Elias’ home office, shut the door and Blake looked at Eli, then their father.
“One of you, speak!” Blake ordered.
“Dad, please …” Eli begged their father.
“If you won’t I will!” Ethan warned Eli as a response.
“Dad…!” Eli begged, looking pitiful.
“Okay, so spit it out already, the suspense it killing me. Did you gamble away all your money, Eli, or what the heck is up here?” Blake demanded.
“Ha, if only that were it! But no, your sweet little baby brother here is a CHEATER! A dirty, filthy cheater, with a wife at home, a wonderful daughter and a granddaughter and has nothing better to do but to become a cliche! And that on MY company’s property! Your mother and I raised you better than that, Eli!” Ethan roared.
“Huh?” Blake made.
“Oh, Blake, don’t be so daft! He fucked his secretary on his office couch and I had the great misfortune of walking right into that porno!” Ethan told his older son roughly.
“Oh crap!” Blake couldn’t help but saying.
“I’d say!” Ethan agreed.
Elias looked beaten and destroyed.
“It’s not like that. Sienna and I … we … connected.”
“I saw that! You were completely connected to that desk hussy! Not something a father, or boss, should EVER have to be exposed to, especially not at my age! I am in my seventies, shenanigans like that could kill me, then my death would be on YOUR conscience! And you are even lucky that it was just me who walked in, not another employee! Nick would have had a heart attack if I had to bring some law suit to his doorstep that one of our employee’s filed after catching their second in command whoring around with one of their peers. All the liability this leaves us vulnerable to, not to mention what that Sienna thot could do to us now! Nick would probably quit our friendship after almost 60 years! You know how he is about faithfulness in marriage!” Ethan dramatized the matter unnecessarily, he was sturdy as a bull, he had his own experiences with unfaithfulness and while Nick really wasn’t a fan, he had been by his side through it all and that would never change.
“Dad! Please don’t make this vulgar … it was just some bodily affection between a very nice woman and … ” that’s how far Eli got before Ethan cut him off with another loud rant.
“Oh, I do beg your pardon, Sir, for offending a woman who KNOWS you are married and whom I have been paying, evidently for much more than just administrative duties! Your late-onset hormone surge made you forget all about your wife? Your family? Our reputation as a family and professionally?!”
“I have done nothing but show my integrity to the family and the business. I have kept alive a marriage that was practically dead on arrival for as long as I could, but even I need some physical affection every now and then. We’ve been so discreet …” Eli held against Ethan’s anger burst, which only made him more upset.
“Integrity?! DISCREET!? You were nailing a subordinate right beneath your wedding portrait! That is a lot of things but neither integrous nor discreet, you wretched hornball!” Ethan roared that the walls nearly shook.
“Dad, come on! Can’t you see Eli is already on the ground? Quit kicking him, won’t fix anything anymore. And you and I both know that he and Sarah would be better off as friends or something.”
“We haven’t had … been intimate in many months … maybe even a year already … ” Eli tried to explain himself.
“Is that supposed to justify what you have done?! Your daughter lives with you. She already is in this … complicated situation with that … boy … the father of her kid. There was no need to live more how-not-to’s out right before her eyes. That kid of yours is gonna be absolutely screwed up and her kid along with her!” Ethan grumbled.
“Dad, come on …” Blake interjected.
“Dad come on?! DAD COME ON?! Do you not understand the weight of all this? What he has done to his family, our family and what this could mean for EC Architects?!” Ethan looked about ready to have a coronary.
“What am I supposed to do about all that now?” Eli yelped, upon which Ethan immediately responded.
“Oh, I’ll tell you what you WILL do: tomorrow you type up a letter of recommendation for Sienna and we’ll help her find a new job somewhere. I’ll make some calls. Then you will tell Sarah what you have done and you will find a way out of this pile of dung together, while I will hire you a new assistant, one you won’t want to screw! And just so we are clear on one more thing: if I see Sienna at work beyond lunch tomorrow or if you have not fessed up to Sarah by Sunday, I will handle all that myself and it won’t be with kid-gloves!”
Ethan was now done with the conversation and rushed out, leaving behind a visibly distraught Eli and a confused Blake.
“You’ll be okay, dude. And if not, we got Kiera’s room you can move into. Hope you like pastels …” Blake told his brother.
“Fuck you and you jokes, Blake.” Eli rushed out too.
“Don’t take it out on me, lil bro. I didn’t turn into a little fairy to take your little Ethan and stuff it into your assistant. Made your bed, now you gotta lay in it. I just put a little itching powder in there for personal entertainment, that’s all. Just like KC would have done … just like KC. Damn, I miss KC.” Blake mumbled to himself.
He turned, shrugged and left the office to go back downstairs. It didn’t take a genius to realize that dinner would definitely not happen, but a spousal fight would and neither he, nor Hailey or Chase had to be present for that. They’d be better off at a restaurant. With food ready to be served. ‘Dad bod!’ Blake thought to himself, snorted, while shaking his head.
Sarah’s reaction to Eli’s confession the next morning, Saturday, was what you would expect. Eli used one sleepless night to mull over on how to best tell her without hurting her more than necessary.
While their marriage never really had been one you’d read about in a storybook, Eli’s betrayal hit Sarah hard.
The confession resulted in a terrifying fight that probably reported on the Richter scales in the surrounding counties. It was probably her pain talking, but since Briar Rose had been there for the entire conversation, Sarah included her in a verbal roundhouse kick at Eli, blaming him for their daughter’s teen pregnancy and still being unwed, while the loser baby daddy Stryker was probably out having fun laughing at them.
Ultimately, they didn’t even try to patch up their marriage. Sarah decided to move out that same day and would file for divorce on Monday. Briar Rose seemed mostly okay with it all, strangely calm. She loved her mom, despite of all, but had always been more of a daddy’s girl.
Sarah had never been very maternal or warm, but had a very short fuse, so Bri had always gone to her dad or her older cousin Chase for everything anyway. Her mother had always been too unpredictable, and mostly Eli took the brunt of her anger, shielding their daughter best he could, while working long hours.
Sarah was also rarely home, out with friends, working late or who knows what. Not much really would change for Bri now. She’d meet her mother for lunches or dinners, over coffee, whenever her mom would remember she had a daughter and managed to squeeze her into her schedule. Same as always.
“Hey, how are you doing?” Chase asked as he walked onto the patio of Briar Rose’s home and sat down.
“Tired and exhausted. As every day and night since I gave birth, but even more so now, that I am back studying and little Miss Thang can walk. Never wanted kids and if they didn’t have such a shitty return policy, I’d be in line to get my money back.” Bri smiled faintly.
“Aww, you love Hope. It’s just the stress talking.” Chase purposely avoided mentioning the split of her parents.
“Am I hearing uncle Chasenator offering to babysit?” she smiled at him.
“Me?! Oh, trust me, you wouldn’t want that! I am useless with kids.”
“You’ll learn. Gives you some practice for whenever Kiera finally gets knocked up.”
“Ugh – hopefully never.”
“Hopefully yesterday, you mean! My eardrums are bleeding from her whining about wanting a baby, only two days ago she literally sat right where you are right now bawling about being infertile and shit. I am THIS close to sending Stryker in to get her knocked up, since Logan cannot seem to find the right hole.”
“Eeeew, Bri, that is gross! That’s my little sister you are talking about and just … eww!”
“Bet she hasn’t whined about all that to you, or you’d be dialing the phone for me.”
“She has. Of course she has. It is almost all she ever talks about. Just like when Logan took so long to propose.”
“Yeah, he may be serious eye-candy, but a little to lethargic for my taste. I wouldn’t kick him out of my bed, but think he’d benefit from some whip cracking and loads of caffeine. Maybe even an adrenaline shot or two.”
“Bri, OMG, again, my sister and brother-in-law we are talking about. And joking about cheating and all is really not a good idea now.”
“Why? Because my dad nailed his secretary? Why not? Have you seen her? She is really cute and she’d be a much better match for him than my mom. I love mom, I mean, she is the only mother I got, but she is like a frozen fish, and I suspect that’s no different between the sheets. I wouldn’t be happy with that, don’t expect my dad to be either. Just the cold, hard truth.”
“I am just not used to the Bri-talk anymore, or did all that get even worse with Stryker around?”
“Nope, I was always a naughty naughty little girl. Minus the little part. So how are things going with you and Miss Ireland?”
“Couldn’t be better.” Chase smiled, thinking about Thursday night’s date with Caitriona.
“You think she’s the one? I mean, wedding bells and all?” Bri asked him.
“Too early to tell. But out of all of them she has the most potential.”
“Yeah. I think Piper did too. I liked Piper.” Bri said.
“I did too, unforunately she liked her boss better. Ugh, there is that again. I swear I never once thought about sleeping with anyone at work.”
“That’s because you dork work in a science lab surrounded by science nerds. Except the receptionist maybe … sorry, how did you and Cait meet again?” Bri grinned.
“OK, hint taken. But I am not dating her because she was the receptionist, but because of a botched text message to Kiera. Everything else is purely incidental.” Chase defended himself, blushing.
“Symantics. And chill, sweet cousin. You get so worked up about nothing. Just remember to cover up your little drill bit when you two get busy. Anchor babies are a thing among immigrants.”
“Are you kidding me, Bri?” Chase looked horrified.
“Hey bitchez, what’s new?” Stryker joined them, grinned at Chase, kissed Bri as he sat down next to her.
“Hey, before you get too comfy, can you go across the street and knock up his sister real quick so she stops whining about not being preggers? I can vouch for your male vigor.”
“Okay … can I eat first?” Stryker responded drily.
“No, we need you on this ASAP. I’ll make you a sandwich and you can eat while you’re at it.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time …” Stryker grinned and shrugged, while secretly Chase wondered how much of that was actually a joke.
“Okay guys, this is too crude for me. I am going home. You two have fun.”
“Oh come on, bud …” Stryker tried to change his mind, while Bri giggled.
Chase nearly ran out of Bri’s home, and as they watched him pass by taking the shortcut across the beach, he could hear them laugh.
But there was more change yet ahead.
First the visit over at Kiera and Logan’s for another dinner. As soon as they all walked in, Chase knew something was up. You guessed it. She was finally pregnant.
And over the moon about it, while Chase felt the last bit of his happy childhood change from reality into a memory.
But there was more yet. Coco, Kiera and Logan’s dog started acting weird and yep, she was pregnant too. There was only one male she had ever been unattended with, who was, like her, intact, and that was their grandfather Ethan’s dog Wolf. The pregnancy resulted in three puppies. The vet told them not to be surprised by the puppies initial colors, as they would most likely change as they matured. And yes, they finally remembered to have her fixed.
Ethan took one of the pups, a male with heterochromia, one eye greenish, the other brown, and he was named Fenris, Elias took the one female they named Kyrithia, and somehow Chase ended up with one, a little male who was hot on his heels ever since he first set eyes on Chase. The pup was named Shadow and Chase did very much bond with the puppy before long.
Then, several weeks after the incident with Elias there was unrest in the Cameron home by the cliffs again.
Briar Rose was stressed as is, with a toddler and college finals looming. She had driven everybody completely insane looking for Stryker. The last anyone had seen him or heard from him was now almost two entire months ago. She often came to Chase to be consoled, like she always had, but everything that normally had worked, now failed. She was miserable and worried.
Stryker had never been known for being underfoot a lot, and he often seemed to disappear, but this time, it was different. Never before had he not reported to work, worrying even Nick, with his nerves of steel.
A missing person report was filed, they had waited this long on purpose as having his real name out there in the public record could expose his location and make him vulnerable to his father’s henchmen, but they all saw no other way to handle this anymore. Eventually the Camerons and Nick got an update that shocked every single one of them.
Stryker had been imprisoned, accused of murder in the first degree, awaiting trial.
-to be continued-